WAXAHACHIE — With the idea of allowing someone to walk a mile in a different pair of shoes, the Waxahachie Police Department is giving residents the chance to put the age-old adage to the test. Registration is underway for the department’s annual Citizens Police Academy.

The academy is taught by police officers and is designed to give members of the public a working knowledge of the department. It will also allow students to experience the duties of a policeman first hand in a simulated classroom environment.

“Citizens Police Academy is a great time for our community to come out, plug in and get involved with our police department,” WPD Community Service Officer Dustin Jordan said. “Not only will they have the opportunity to learn several procedures, the how’s and the whys police do certain things that they do, but it is an excellent time to get involved and meet the officers and come together as a community.”

Topics that the academy will cover include patrol, use of force, basic investigation and crime scene procedures, SWAT tactics, traffic unit challenges and firearms training. Students will also learn about the role dispatcher’s play in the police department.

“The dispatch experience for last year was new. We put together this program where you got to learn a little bit about dispatch. What was really exciting and where we got a lot of feedback from is we created a dispatch center for the citizens to come in and participated in,” Jordan said. “They answered (simulated) calls, listened to the radio and communicated and got that information out on our CAD system. It was really a first-hand experience of what it is like to be in dispatch.”

Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said the citizen’s police academy would provide a unique experience for both the officers who are teaching and the public who are taking part.

“It is always fun to get the interaction with citizens and educate them on what we do. The officers have fun doing it,” Goolsby said. “I think, in the end, the citizens walk away with a much greater appreciation for what we do and what we face on a day-to-day basis. It is a lot of fun.”

To be able to take part in the class you have to be 21 years old, live or work in Waxahachie and be able to pass a background check. There is no cost for the class. However, class space is limited to 15 students. The class will meet once a week from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Thursday. The first class is on March 16 and will be held at the Waxahachie Police Department located at 216 N. College St. in downtown Waxahachie. The last class will conclude with a graduation dinner on May 11. People who are interested in taking part in the class can email Jordan at djordan@waxahachiepd.org for an application.

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